Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte under fire for off-colour remarks about rape


Militants of the Maute group stormed the city of Marawi, on the southern Philippines island Mindanao, on Tuesday.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, giving a pep talk to his troops in the country's restive south, exhorted the soldiers to go all out in fighting Islamic militants and joked that under martial law they could even commit rape with impunity.

The whole island of Mindanao has been placed under martial law last Tuesday following terrorist attacks in Marawi City.

Mr Duterte told troops at a military camp they were allowed to rape up to three women in an attempt to "lift spirits" after imposing martial law across the southern Philippines.

Authorities said the militants had killed 19 civilians in Marawi City, a mostly Muslim-populated city of 200,000 people.

The militants reportedly planted black Daesh flags, took a priest and up to 14 other people hostage at a Catholic church and set fire to buildings. Their condition remains unknown.

Padilla said 11 soldiers, two policemen and 31 militants had been confirmed killed in the fighting, which has involved the military bombing buildings where the militants have been hiding. Duterte won the presidency previous year on a campaign to eradicate drug crime and has since launched an expansive national counter-drug trafficking operation that many in Europe have criticized for allegedly not taking the safety of civilians into consideration.

"Their refusal to surrender is holding the city captive".

As the government retakes much of the city, the scope of the battle is becoming clearer.

All of the groups are inspired by the Islamic State group. "If you rape three (women), I will say that I did it".

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They are also suspected of having hunted down Christians in the Muslim-majority city to use as human shields, religious leaders told Reuters.

Some civilians refused to evacuate because they want to guard their homes, slowing down the government operations, he said.

Padilla said that this will be part of the Martial Law guidelines being crafted which will now be on the part of the administrator to exercise.

"The United States condemns the recent violence perpetrated by an ISIS-linked terrorist group in the southern Philippines", Spicer said. The gunmen were still holding out in two areas and soldiers have begun door-to-door searches.

Malaysia's Special Branch police said its intelligence indicates at least five other Malaysians are still in Marawi City and that it will take the time to verify the numbers and their identities, said The Malay Mail Online. He said governmental planes are at their disposal for the wounded to be transported and the best medical equipment is available.

Gen Ano predicted that the military operation will take about a week as soldiers go house-to-house to clear the city of militants. "It has transmogrified into an invasion by foreign fighters", Solicitor-General Jose Calida, the government's chief lawyer, told reporters in the southern city of Davao.

"Together we pray for an end to terrorism that falsely claims to advance Islam and seeks to subjugate our land to the brutal IS", Abella said in a statement.

Extremist insurgents from Maute group have since engaged government forces in firefights causing residents to flee. He also heads an alliance of at least 10 smaller militant groups, including the Maute, which have a heavy presence in Marawi and were instrumental in fighting off government forces in this week's battles.

The United States regards Hapilon as one of the world's most risky terrorists and has offered a bounty of $5 million for his capture.